Wednesday Recipes: Game Day Pizza Time!

This Sunday is the Big Game Day and that means that this week is the week to be getting all of your recipes and ingredients in line in order to have your Game Day party ready to go. We’re certain that you’ve already stocked up on the essentials: pretzels, chips, dip, beer, nachos, cheese, burgers, salsa, and the like. However, if you want to have something a little extra for variety on your buffet table, try some of these finger-food pizza-inspired recipes below!

Pizza Roll-Ups

1 loaf frozen French bread dough or 1 loaf italian bread dough or 1 loaf all purpose bread dough
1 lb lean ground beef or 1 lb turkey
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups grated part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
4 cups italian tomato sauce

Thaw dough; roll it into 14 x 24-inch rectangle about 1/4 inch thick.

Brown ground beef or turkey; stir in remaining ingredients except Italian tomato sauce. Spoon filling evenly onto dough, slightly pressing filling into dough. Roll dough lengthwise like a jelly roll, and cut into 24 1-inch slices.

Treat 2 rimmed cookie sheets with nonstick spray; lay slices on sheets about 1 inch apart.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Let roll-ups sit for 10 minutes. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden.

Cool roll-ups and freeze in 4 1 gallon bags, 6 per bag. Slip a 1 quart bag with 1 cup sauce into each bag of pizza roll ups.

To prepare, thaw roll-ups and warm them in a preheated 400°F oven for 10 minutes or put them frozen in the microwave; heat on high for about 2 minutes. Serve with warmed Italian tomato sauce.

Tomato-Feta Bites

1 (17.3-ounce) package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
8 Roma tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped
8 ounces crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (such as oregano, basil, thyme, chives, and parsley)

Preheat oven to 400°. Place pastry sheets on a lightly floured work surface, and roll into 2 (8- x 12-inch) rectangles. Pierce dough with fork. Cut each pastry sheet into 24 squares; place on aluminum foil-lined baking sheets.

Place 1 tomato slice on each pastry square. Top evenly with olives and feta; drizzle with olive oil.

Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until pastry is puffed and golden. Sprinkle with herbs before serving.

If you need any items, such as an oven, cookware, or more, be sure to check out our Kitchen and Housewares Department to find what you need!

Tech Talk Tuesday: Computing Trends

Tech Talk Tuesday: Computing Trends

The past two decades have seen some pretty revolutionary changes in the way that people handle computers. It used to be that the only way one could “work” with a computer was to have a desktop system complete with a keyboard, monitor, and mouse. If someone wanted to use their computer on the go, it meant they had to carry a lot of weight and gear around as even early laptops were fairly heavy (and very expensive). However, these days, that is no longer the case. Mobile phones act as miniature computers for many people and tablets can replicate much of the day-to-day functionality of a laptop. Laptop themselves have become slimmer, lighter, and more powerful as they try to compete with the tablet market and desktops, while still necessary for serious high-end work, are undergoing something of an identity crisis as they struggle to deal with different ways that people interact with computing environments.

Touchscreen technology is probably the biggest game-changer between desktops, laptops, and the more “mobile” computers. Microsoft discovered just how differently the various markets approach computing with Windows 8 and still seem to be trying to find their stride. Desktop users tend to prefer interacting with their computer through the more traditional method (mouse and keyboard) and keeping a distance between themselves and their monitors. Laptop users, though, can go either direction — some preferring the traditional method and some preferring the modern touchscreen methods. Mobile users, on the other hand, are all modern. They want to be able to use gestures and touchscreen methods, relying on keyboard inputs only in exceptional cases. As Microsoft learned the hard way, their One Ring method may not work to reach all three target groups.

Why does my desktop suddenly look like a tablet?
I know that I can flow easily from touchscreen on my tablet to traditional on my desktop (which I use for writing and video editing and rendering which tablets can’t yet handle) and I was thoroughly annoyed with Windows 8 and downgraded to 7 immediately because I did not want my desktop to look and function the way my tablet did. That misstep has made me very leery of upgrading to any future versions of Windows.

What about you? Have any of you been burned by your OS of choice trying to be all things to all people? Are you annoyed or overjoyed about desktops becoming more touchy-feely? Let us know in the comments below!

Motion Picture Monday: Game of Thrones Season 5

Motion Picture Monday: Game of Thrones Season 5

So, it’s that time of year again. That’s right, it’s the time of year when everyone starts losing their minds over what’s going to happen in the next season of HBO’s hit television series, Game of Thrones. Set to premiere on April 12, the fifth season of this show has a tough act to follow with all of the big action and major events from season four. Season four introduced a lot of new characters — including Prince Oberyn of Dorne — and resolved a lot of points that had been building since seasons one and two. There was the whole “Sansa was married off to Tyrion” thing and then King Joffrey finally getting his comeuppance (and anyone who wasn’t cheering a bit during that scene has something wrong with them). Tyrion went to trial, managed to get out just ahead of the headsman, and exacted his own revenge on his betrayers.

Sansa managed to escape her own situation with the help of the man in love with her mother and dear Petyr became Lord of the Eyrie (kind of) when his newlywed wife fell victim to gravity. Arya and the Hound continued their Westeros World Tour and eventually she left the band to pursue her own solo career in Braavos.

So, what do we have to look forward to in the next season? Well, Brann is going to be out of commission since the show has caught up to where he is in the novels and George R.R. Martin hasn’t finished >Winds of Winter yet. But, we will get to see Daenerys ruling cities across the sea and more of her dragons. We will also get to see why Cersei is a terrible ruler and how karma comes around in the play-by-plays between the Tyrells and the Lannisters. The White Walkers will continue to be a problem up at the Wall and everyone south of the North is too busy playing their Games of Thrones to remember the Stark words: Winter is coming.

All in all, there’s a lot to look forward to. What you are you eager to see?

Wrapping Up the Week

Wrapping Up the Week

It’s been another fun and interesting week in the work of tech and gadgets in general. The biggest news story this week was the Windows 10 demo from Microsoft late in the week. However, the rest of the week had plenty of news all its own. Security, politics, cyberwar, and cyber-crime were all big topics for headlines this week as the worst (and yet most commonly used) passwords from 2014 came to light along with news about how the NSA is getting their tendrils into everything everywhere. Courts ruled that Illinois teens involved in cyberbullying must turn over their passwords — a ruling that has many uneasy — and the FBI had some updates on their hopes with facial recognition software.

There were, of course, cooler things out of NASA and Google and much more featured on our Twitter feed. However, if you’re not following us on Twitter, we’ll recap the highlights for you below!

That’s all for this week, everyone! Have a great weekend and we’ll see you again next week!

Throwback Thursday: The Truman Show

One of the strangest but coolest movies to come out of the 1990s was The Truman Show. The premise of the movie is that the main character, Truman, has no idea that he’s the central character in a long-running reality television show that began when he was just a few days old. His entire life has been scripted for him, his best friends and wife selected by the casting director and the show producers, and cameras placed to capture every second of his life. Truman is afforded virtually no privacy. His world is a massive sound stage enclosed in a dome that is visible from space.

However, though his life is heavily controlled (without his knowledge), Truman does continually try to break free of the restraints placed on him. He remembers and searches obsessively for a girl he met and fell in love with during his teenage years. He dreams of traveling even though the producers have done everything they can to instill a fear of travel in him. Eventually, Truman does break free and escapes to go on to live his own life without the safety and protection that the scripted life of the sound studio afforded him.

The Truman Show was one of the many experimental and exploratory movies shot in the 90s like Pleasantville. It also dealt with some of the issues that many businesses and programs have to deal with such as advertising and product placement and did it in a very humorous way. If you haven’t seen this film, it’s well worth watching and, despite being a tad pedestrian at times, does raise several thought-provoking questions.

Keeping Your Kitchen Tech Clean

Keeping Your Kitchen Tech Clean

Modern appliances have made meal preparation much easier than it was even just a century ago. We’ve gone from cooking using fire or coal to electricity and natural gas, heating elements have gotten much more precise, running water and indoor plumbing make kitchens easier to sanitize and keep clean, and refrigeration keeps food and ingredients from spoiling. Not to mention that kitchen and home appliances such as dishwashers and hand-vacs can save cooks time and energy, allowing them to multi-task better. However, many new gadgets contain a lot of electronics that cannot be subjected to the high temperatures and heavy doses of water and detergent that are part and parcel of the dishwashing experience. Indeed, some of these cannot be submerged in water at all. So, what is a cook to do?

Well, the easiest thing is to read the instructions for cleaning that came with the gadget. However, if you’re anything like me, once you finally wrestled whatever it is out of the packaging (clam-shell packaging is evil), you had either completely mangled the documentation or the documentation is hopelessly lost amid all the other documentation you have shoved off in a drawer somewhere. So, working from that assumption, try the tips below!

1) A Simple Wipe-Down — Get a washcloth or sponge and submerge it in hot, soapy water. Wring it out until it is just damp and then wipe down the device thoroughly. You may have to re-wet and re-wring the cloth/sponge several times and use a few quarts of elbow grease.

2) Sterilizing Needs — After giving it a simple wipe-down, if you need to further sterilize your device, use a rubbing alcohol pad, a baby-wipe, or a paper towel dipped in rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide followed by another wipe-down with just a damp (non-soapy) cloth or sponge to ensure that there are no remnants.

3) Avoid sanitizing wipes for hands — The hand soaps that many of us carry around are great for hands but not so great for kitchen gadgets. Yes, they will probably get rid of most of the germs but the remnants they leave behind are not always safe to eat and, when mixed with food, can make people sick.

4) Hair dryers — If you absolutely must get this thing clean, follow step 1 and then use a blow dryer set to “high” and “heat” to blast it dry. The hot air from the blow dryer should be hot enough to both dry and sanitize the device without raising its temperature so high as to cause electronic issues. However, use this cautiously and sparingly since every device is different and there is no way for us to account for any kind of wear and tear on your particular gadget!

Keeping your kitchen clean and orderly is much easier these days. However, for those with OCD who need to keep things as germ-free as possible, the steps above should help with keeping the cooking and meal prep areas both clean and sterile after use!

Do you have any tips to add? If so, let us know in the comments below!

Security and the NFL

Security and the NFL

The NFL is one of the most paranoid non-governmental agencies in existence. The teams within it guard their playbooks very carefully because if one of those books fell into another team’s hands, then the first team would be forced to completely redesign their strategy and tactics if they wanted to win another game. That’s why discussing what plays to plan for takes place behind closed doors with the team only. It’s also why coaches are reluctant to move to a more digital format when it comes to recording and storing their playbooks. After all, it’s one thing to toss a paper book into a lockbox and rest easy. It’s another to know that you’re storing everything on a tablet that has WiFi and that a very clever hacker could gain access to.

So, what are NFL coaches to do? Well, most of them have begun to use tablets though only after some serious lobbying from the big tablet manufacturers. And, even then, they’re not falling in line with the technology the way the tech giants (like Microsoft) would want which is why you might see NFL coaches carrying around Apple iPads and calling them “surfaces” or vice versa. Coaches also aren’t that interested in sharing things over social media which is another reason that tablet adoption has been slower. Finally, there’s the fact that the NFL has begun cracking down big time on people live-tweeting the games that makes most NFL coaches wonder why they should bother carrying a tablet onto the sidelines.

Now, coaches probably do make good use of computers, tablets, and more in different contexts. Though they are not technology gurus, these guys probably do like the idea of being able to remotely wipe or lock down a tablet instead of having to worry about a spiral-bound notebook going missing. However, the situations where tablets are most likely to be used are also the situations in which they’re least likely to be seen which is what frustrates tech giants like Microsoft and others.

If you were coaching in the NFL, how would you handle the issue of security? Let us know in the comments below!

Motion Picture Monday: Multi-Camera Video Shoots

Motion Picture Monday: Multi-Camera Video Shoots

Probably the most complicated part of planning for a video shoot for something like a television show or movie is doing the camera mapping so that the cameras don’t interfere with each other’s shots and so that the scene doesn’t need to be filmed in multiple takes in hopes of getting it right from four (or more) different angles. When shooting with one camera or with a series of fixed cameras (cameras that will not move), it’s a lot easier to plan for different shots and to pre-plan post-production. However, add in cameras that move along set positions or that are shoulder-carry rigs and all of that ability to plan goes out the window.

So how does it get done at all?

That’s where the director and the photography director or camera coordinator come in. The director and producers might know that they want particular kinds of shots in a given scene. They’ll discuss these things before shooting begins and the director will note the different cameras he wants to use in each scene and will draw a series of maps of where the cameras should be, where the actors should be, where the focus should be, and then will make certain that the cameras either don’t show up on each other’s shots or that they show up in a way where they can be cleanly edited out in post-production.

The director will also make certain that any camera dolly tracks are laid out in a way that won’t cause problems for actors or extras who need to move near them during the scene.

The real question is how do actors learn to ignore the cameras and keep going naturally? I know that I would have a hard time ignoring something hovering in my peripheral vision even if I knew it was benign. How actors can do it so effortlessly is a skill that I think is worthy of respect!

Wrapping Up the Week

Wrapping Up the Week

It’s been another fun week in the tech world with news ranging from new gadgets and envisioning the future (the sadly flying-car-less future) to dealing with the more mundane topics of law and order, business, and taxes. With the major tech reveal of the year behind us — the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas — the pace of news about new gadgets and gizmos has slackened a bit but has not dropped off entirely. And, science, tech, and research continue to do amazing things including developing tools to allow paralyzed rats to walk again (which might, eventually, have human applications).

All of these stories and more were covered in our Twitter feed this week. However, if you’re not following us on Twitter then we’ll recap the highlights for you below!

That’s all for this week, everyone. Have a great weekend and we’ll see you again next week.

Throwback Thursday: Wuthering Heights

Last week we talked about Charlotte Brontë’s work Jane Eyre. This Throwback Thursday, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention her sister’s great work which is also one of the literary masterpieces from the 1800s, Wuthering Heights. Emily Brontë’s novel differs from her sister’s in many ways. The most notable is that Emily’s characters are all compelling but difficult to like and are the authors of their own tragedies whereas Charlotte’s characters are compelling and generally likeable even with their all-too-human flaws.

If you somehow managed to graduate from high school without reading Wuthering Heights (and it is “Wuthering” not “Withering”), then you should rectify that immediately. The novel can be confusing since it is told in a framework narrative with one character (Nellie Dean) acting as the narrator relating the history of the manor Wuthering Heights and its inhabitants to her employer. Still, once you get into the story, it’s very hard to put down. Catherine and Heathcliff Earnshaw are both very magnetic characters and their love is both uplifting and destructive. The Lintons, for the most part, seem to be good people but have their own flaws that bring about their destruction at vengeful hands.

If reading is not your thing, the best movie adaptation of this book is the one with Ralph Fiennes shot in 1992. It captures the dual natures of all of the characters quite well and does not try to dress them up or hide their flaws. Also, Fiennes is probably the only actor who can play both an ignorant, illiterate, rough-handed servant and a gentleman in the same character. Paired with Juilette Binoche, they really bring the characters of Catherine and Heathcliff to life.